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Three keynote speakers addressed DairyNZ's Farmers' Forum yesterday at the Claudelands event centre in Hamilton.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw, independent economist Cameron Bagrie and National MP Todd Muller spoke to around 400 farmers, each with a different, yet positive message for the industry.
Shaw opened the forum, which was held in Waikato and Southland simultaneously, by acknowledging the sector's success and where dairy was heading.
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle was at the Hamilton event. He said Shaw's speech was "great to hear".
"He acknowledged the world-leading status of dairy farmers when it comes to our carbon footprint and how we farm," he told The Country's Jamie Mackay.
"He also talked about the progress in terms of the reduction in carbon output per unit of milk produced, it's been a positive story as well in the last ten years. So it was good to hear that."
Mackle was pleased that Shaw mentioned a "meaningful drop" in emissions as well.
"We are becoming more efficient over time. That said, it's always a challenge to go further and that's why we've really got to go hard on this technology."
Cameron Bagrie also spoke at the Farmers' Forum. Mackle said the economist was "excellent" and farmers enjoyed what he had to say.
"Cameron was great. He's always entertaining and he's always insightful and he thinks about things laterally often, which is really good."
Bagrie was positive both in terms of the role of dairy, as well as the outlook, Mackle said.
"The fact that [dairy's] driving half of our exports at the moment – for reasons which we all would like to be different of course – but at the same time, it does underscore how important it is."
Bagrie also talked about macro-economic issues that could affect world markets, and what they might mean for Kiwi farmers, Mackle said.
"I think it's always helpful to lift our eyes up and look forward around that, and Cam's great like that."
Finally, National MP Todd Muller spoke about his mental health battle, a talk which farmers appreciated, Mackle said.
"I just have huge amount of admiration for Todd and sharing that story...and the farmers feel the same way."
Mental health was something New Zealanders - "particularly males" - still didn't discuss enough, Mackle said.
"Todd lending that - and from a politician's perspective - I think is really valuable, so good on him."
Farmers' Forum nationwide webinars
Farmers who couldn't attend the event were encouraged to register for two webinars in May, which will showcase the Forum's economic insights and scientific solution sessions.
Webinar one – 7-8pm Thursday, May 6
DairyNZ's economics team shares insights into the competitiveness of New Zealand's dairy sector against key international competitors.
Webinar two – 7-8pm Thursday, May 13
Join DairyNZ's science team for a discussion on the latest science-based solutions to farming challenges.
Find more information and how to register here.